Monday, July 24, 2017

spit[ing] and spat[ing] in saratoga springs

i'll be honest, it took me half way into a three day trip to realize saratoga springs was actually named because of natural springs.

last may found my fiancee and i traveling with another couple to saratoga springs, new york for the wedding of our friends.  since it was a holiday weekend we decided to stay and be tourists in town for a long weekend.  as we ventured around the city we discovered the city had a number of naturally carbonated,  mineral springs, hence the name.  tourists were encouraged to try a sample of theses waters as each spring had a various flavors with different health benefits.   finding one of these springs we decided to try it.  now, i don't like unnecessary exaggeration in stories and i try not to curse too much on this blog, but the water tasted like %100 pure ass.  no joke, it smelled and tasted like rotting eggs in a barnyard.  according to the map we found this particular spring is noted for being

"highly-carbonated water of an alkaline-saline flavor noted for its high mineral content and renowned as a digestive curative."  

science aside, our little group of friends referred to it as the "butt water."  imagine our surprise, right after giving it this name, we saw someone fill up a two gallon jug to the brim of this water to take back home.  maybe they had a really upset stomach.  thankfully, that particular spring didn't stop us from trying more, which were all much better tasting.

another site we stumbled upon, was a statue featuring two mermen spitting water at each other, named by locals as "spit and spat."  after trying the "butt water" just a few feet away, i could completely understand why they would be doing this.

spitting and spatting aside, saratoga springs is a beautiful city, filled with a rich history, beautiful architecture and a wonderful culture.  we all agreed we'd love to see the city in the summer when the horse track opens up.  saratoga is also now home to one of the best breakfasts i've ever had in my life, a fried chicken, potato and egg hash.  a rich meal that normally would have upset my stomach, but didn't.

maybe it was made with some of that "butt water."

Sunday, July 23, 2017


sometimes taking a break can be a good thing.

for my bachelor party, the only thing i wanted to do was to see a game at wrigley field.  i'm not a huge cubs fan but as i've stated earlier i do love baseball stadiums and i wanted to cross wrigley field off my list.

the game tickets were purchased, the airbnb reserved and flights were booked.  all the planning was coming together beautifully, however one thing we couldn't plan for was the weather, and it ended up being incredibly nasty the day of the game. so nasty in fact that the game was canceled.  i was pissed and disappointed.  the only thing i had wanted to do to celebrate my "single-dom" was to touch the ivy and it wasn't going to happen.  luckily for me my friends rallied and found several places for us to chill in chicago.  one of the spots was the chicago athletic association, which  had a floor filled with pool tables, shuffle board, classic board games and a boccie ball court.  the afternoon was spent shooting pull, throwing boccie balls and drinking beer.  in the same building we ventured to a roof deck featuring amazing views of millennium park.  later that day we found a fantastic brewery and a phenomenal taco place.  later on in the night the details get fuzzy but judging by the pictures on my phone, a good time was had by all.

slowly waking up the next morning with a slight hangover and the smell of stale beer in the apartment i realized something.  the rain out the day before meant the cubs players could take a break in a busy schedule.  i was taking a break from the craziness of wedding planning to hang with my friends and my friends were all taking a break in their lives to celebrate with me.

breaks can be a good thing.

breaks were the whole reason i got to spend a quality weekend hanging with some of the best guys i know.

and hell, it's kind of nice to still have that bucket list item unchecked.  it just means i'll have to take a break some other time in the future and see wrigley.

heading back to maine at the end of that weekend i knew life was going to get hectic the next two months as the wedding date got closer.

game on.

Monday, July 17, 2017

magical [history] tour

when your new in town, sometimes you have to jump at opportunities to find out more about the city you live in.  that's exactly what i did last may when i went on the magical mystery tour hosted by the maine historical society.

so the whole point of the tour is that it's a big secrete right up until the day before the tour.  that's when they release the list of 10 hidden spots around portland that the general public cat usually get to.  as i haven't been in too many building around town, it didn't really matter what the list consisted of, i was excited to see and learn anything i could.

it was an incredibly well done event and i had a blast discovering new sites.  i wasn't able to make it to all 10, but i fully enjoyed the sites i did visit.

some highlights were traveling to the top of the city hall clock tower, seeing the inside of the time and temperature building, a private home designed by john calvin stevens and the inside of st. dominic parish.

i feel it very hard to grow in a city if you lack knowledge of it's history.  the magical mystery tour gave me a wonderful and beautiful crash course a few gems of this city's history.  i can't wait to see what they have in store next year. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

the [hat] came back

i left you in an uber car in new york city.
i didn't realize it until i was three hours into my 6 hour bus ride back to maine.
i thought you were for sure gone.
for the hell of it, i contacted the uber driver via the app.
as luck would have it, it was still in the car.
he asked where he could deliver it to.
i still had a friend staying in nyc.
i gave him his address, he was only a few minutes away from that location.
he drove by, saw my friend, and threw you out the window.
my friend packed it up and brought yo back to maine.
a couple weeks later you were home.

thanks for coming back to me favorite hat.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

for the love of the [ballpark]

i think i enjoy baseball ballparks more than i actually enjoy baseball.

i'm not a [sports] guy. some people are, i am not.  i watch most of the important games and can usually hold my own talking about the ncaa basketball tournament every spring, but other than that i'm lost.

and i'm ok with that.

there is however one little, very specific area of sports i believe a can hold my own on, and that is knowledge of the actual ballparks.  i love remembering when they were built and by who.  i love knowing the top five oldest ballparks.  i love knowing which ballparks were responsible for ushering in different stadium styles and the various features each stadium holds.

i blame this obsession on two items from my childhood.  first, when i was very young i received a book called "take me out to the ballpark" a history of every major ballparks at that time.  i loved reading the stories each stadium held and the large illustration of each ballpark.  secondly when i was in high school, i took tour of the newly opened coors field in denver.  i still remember little architectural facts from that tour like how the trees planted outside the ballpark naturally turn purple in october, which would mean the landscaping would be in rockies colors during the world series.  i also remember the tour guide mentioning the stadium was designed by a firm in kansas city.  later on i would become very familiar with this firm and appreciate their other work.

recently i went to watch the mets play, which really means i went to go visit citi field, a ballpark designed by the same firm which had done coors field.  i enjoyed the game but to be honest i spent the majority of the game wondering where i could to see different views of the ballpark.  it didn't take the number 1 spot of my favorite baseball stadium but i think it snuck into the top 5.

besides enjoying the stadium it was a great night out with friends and like always, i picked up a hat.

Monday, May 15, 2017

party [local]

i've been living in portland maine over a year now and i realize that i've basically been living as a glorified tourist.  i've seen some sights, tried some restaurants and have gone to a few events but i haven't done anything more than a summer tourist could do. that was until the other weekend when i partied with some g.o.b's.

that's right, some "good ol boys." 

i was invited to a bonfire out in the woods by a friend of mine.  upon arriving and looking at the number of pickup trucks in the driveway i knew i was in for a treat.  we barbecued, told stories, drank beer and kept the fire roaring.  by roaring i of course mean that a few of the g.o.b's saw the fire getting low, went to their trucks and fired up chainsaws.  i of course, having left my chainsaw at home, was on the porch enjoying an amazing plate of baked beans.  heading back to get another scoop, i heard a large thud outside.  looking out the window i saw an entire tree down.  minutes later the trucks pulled up and delivered three full beds of the fallen tree to the bonfire.  a half an hour later the fire was much bigger and i was stuffed with baked beans.

as the night went on we found ourselves moving down from the deck and towards the flames.  the closer we got the better the stories.  we heard all about portland in the 60's and 70's and how great munjoy hill use to be, back when it was "filled with hookers and crack." their words, not mine.  we heard stories from bars long ago forgotten and other adventures around the area.  

i felt at home and homesick at the same time.  this was the kind of thing we use to do all the time growing up.  although the burnt smores of my childhood were replaced with cans of coors this night, hanging out in the country, around a bonfire, felt like old times.  

there's just some shit you can't do in the city...

although from the stories i heard that night, in the 70's you might have been able to.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

[tattoos] and [architecture]

in this months edition of architalks we were asked to write our advice to clients.  to that i say...

there are two types of people who get tattoos; those who request lower back butterflies or barbed wire biceps and those who seek out a specific tattoo artist and want to showcase that artists artwork on their body permanently.

architecture clients are no different.  if you're thinking of hiring an the later.

in my mind, tattoo artists and architects are so similar it's scary.  both work with ink, both are creative, both deal with life long decisions and both deal with having someone else's artistic taste represent you.

now i don't have any tattoos, but i have several good friends who do and i've listened to them tell me how they've seeked out tattoo artists for their specific style. many of them having different tattoos from different artists.  the process was similar, they would meet with the artist, tell them what they were thinking, tell them where they would like the ink, establish a budget, then after a few drawings and discussions, would let artist go to work, excited to have a piece from that artist showcased on their body.   thinking about this architecturally, i couldn't help but fantasize about how this would make for the perfect architecture client.  a person who seeks you out because of your "style", comes in to discuss their project, points out the location, establishes a budget, let's you know a little about themselves and then lets you go to work.

however, you don't often get those types of clients.  there are the clients that tell you exactly what they want, want it fast and with no budget.  i can only imagine i feel the same way about these projects that a tattoo artists feels about someone coming in wanting a little heart on their ankle or a loony toons character.  now, i'm in no way saying those are awful choices in tattoos, merely that if you're hiring an artist, or maybe an architect, deep down their passion is to create something truly unique to you...and with that requires a little bit of trust.  just like the tattoo artist an architect wants to do the best job he can for you.  that's not to say you shouldn't lay some boundaries down, actually in most cases that makes for a better project, but keep in mind they are an artist, their job is to dream and create and after all, isn't that what you're hiring them to do?

in some ways i think architects should be more like tattoo artists. can you imagine how cool it would be to walk into an architectures firm with the walls covered in little framed sketches of buildings, looking into the back and seeing an architect with a bald head, handlebar moustache and neck tattoo is sketching up a drawing for a client? sounds pretty bad ass to me!

maybe if architects also had the letters "P A Y    N O W" tattooed across their knuckles, there would be fewer billing questions.

all this being said, my advice to clients... think about architecture like you would about getting a tattoo.  trust in the artists to do something uniquely you, not the ordinary.

see what other architects have to say aboutt "advice for clients" below.

Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
ArchiTalks: Advice for Working with an Architect

Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
Advice for ALL Clients

Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
advice to clients

Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
ArchiTalks: Advice for Clients

Collier Ward - One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Trust Your Architect

Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Advice List -- From K thru Architect

Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
advice for clients

Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Few Reminders

Emily Grandstaff-Rice - Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Changing the World

Drew Paul Bell - Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Advice for Clients

Jeffrey Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Questions to Ask an Architect in an Interview: Advice for Clients

Samantha R. Markham - The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Dear Client,

Kyu Young Kim - J&K Atelier (@sokokyu)
Advice for Clients

Nisha Kandiah - ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Advice for clients

Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Advice 4 Building

Gabriela Baierle-Atwood - Gabriela Baierle-Atwood (@gabrielabaierle)
What I wish clients knew